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  • "The effort you put in for individuals literally changes lives - getting them the right education to set them up for life. I am really grateful for what you have done for us so a big, big thank you".
    Adam Holloway, M.P. for Gravesham

Medway Secondary School Admissions September 2015

    You will find a lengthy newspaper article I wrote, containing advice and information on secondary school admissions in Kent and Medway, here.
     

    Last Updated June 2014

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    This page is designed primarily for parents resident in Medway, whose children will be transferring to state secondary schools in September 2015. It should be read in conjunction with the pages on Medway Grammar School Admissions and Kent Secondary School Admissions.

    There is more information, advice and comment on the School Admission Code page.

    Please note that for parents applying for any school in Medway outside the normal admission round, you will need to go through the In Year Admission process. For schools run by Medway Council applications need to be made through the Council. Most academies and Voluntary Aided schools manage their own late and in year admissions, in which case they are technically nothing to do with the Council. However, some of these still delegate the process to Medway Council. In my experience Medway Council does not appear to operate a systematic approach to such admissions, with varying advice, some of it breaking the Schools Admission Code. You will find further details here.

    Medway Test result and Review statistics for 2010 to 2014 entry are here.

    Consult the article on In Year Admissions if you are looking for a new school at other times.

    I have wide experience of the secondary school transfer schemes in Kent and Medway, and am happy to place my expertise at your service, both supporting parents through the appeals process and advising on choice of schools and patterns of application (usually using my Telephone Advice Service) , drawing on my extensive local knowledge of the area and its schools. I give talks for parents at an increasing number of primary schools, by invitation, and am also happy to talk with groups of parents, as well as individuals.

    TIMETABLE
    Key Action
    Key Dates in Scheme
    Opening Date for Registration for Medway TestsMonday 9 June 2014
     Closing Date for Registration for Medway Tests
    Friday 4 July 2014
    Medway Test Date For children attending Medway primary, junior and independent schools which have opted to test in own school during the weekTuesday 16/ Wednesday 17 September 2014
    Medway Test date for children attending Medway primary, junior and independen tschools which have opted to test in own school on Saturday and those children from out of area and those Medway schools that have not opted to test in own school (will be tested in test centres).
    Saturday 20 September 2014
    Parents informed of test results
    posted 3 October 2014 (by email after 4 p.m. 3 Oct)
    Closing Date for review requests
    Friday 10 October 2014
     Parents informed of review results
    posted by Friday 24 October 2014
     National Closing Date for Common Application Form (online and SCAF)
    4 p.m. Friday 31 October 2014
    National Offer Day
    Monday 2 March 2015
    Places must be accepted/refused and requests to go on a waiting list and appeals must be submittedBy Monday 30 March 2015
     Vacant places re-allocated
    w/b 6 April 2015 until Friday 30 October 2015

    Whilst there are now national closing and offer dates, each Local Authority operates slightly different processes for allocating pupils, for example Medway parents have six choices and Kent parents have four choices. The Medway secondary school admission prospectus (an essential item, available from Medway Council or your local primary school), or online here, contains details of the all important oversubscription rules, which determine if you will be offered a place if too many people apply. Medway residents need to apply on the  Medway Secondary Common Application Form (SCAF), including any schools in Kent. In the same way, residents of Kent should apply for Medway schools on their own Local Authority application form.

    GRAMMAR SCHOOL TESTING

    It is essential that all parents, who are considering entering their child for the Medway or Kent tests, register their child on the appropriate form obtainable from the primary school or the LA. In Medway, you will find a copy of the form in the LA Prospectus “Admission to Secondary School”.  Your child cannot take the Medway or Kent tests if he or she has not been registered. You cannot be considered for a Medway grammar school if your child has not sat the  Medway tests. There is nothing to lose by entering your child for both tests. For the two Chatham Grammar Schools, admission is via success in either Kent or Medway tests. Medway Grammar School applications are considered in more detail on a separate page.
     
    THE REVIEW PROCESS
    Where children have taken the Medway Test and been unsuccessful, parents have the right to request a review of the decision within the next week. Results will be out in time for you to complete your SCAF. Parents will need to think carefully about whether to apply for a Review, as if unsuccessful, you may find yourself barred from making an appeal on academic grounds. For more information see Medway grammar school Review and appeal.
     
     APPLICATIONS
    Most Secondary School Open Days take place in the Autumn Term. Most Grammar schools hold Open Days after assessment results are sent out on 4th October. Details of these are published in the Medway Admissions Booklet.

    Parents will then be able to select up to six schools in order on the Secondary Common Application Form (SCAF).   
     Some scenarios:
     1) If the child has passed the Medway tests, you may name just grammar schools on your SCAF. Because there are falling numbers in Medway secondary schools, there are plenty of vacancies in the system, so naming all grammar schools for which your child is eligible ensures he or she will be allocated to one of these. 
     2) If your child has not taken the eleven plus, you can only be considered for non selective schools.
     3) If your child has taken the eleven plus and not passed, and you wish to appeal, you must name the grammar schools you wish to appeal to on the SCAF, together with any non selective schools you wish to apply to.
     4) If your child has passed the eleven plus and you name grammar schools and a non selective school, for example a church comprehensive school, you will be offered the highest school on your list for which your child is eligible. If this is the non selective school then you will be offered it in preference to a grammar school lower down your list.
     The process of identifying which one school your child will be offered on National Offer Day is called an Equal Preference Scheme and is quite complex to understand. However:
    You will not boost your chances at a school by placing it in a different order than your genuine preference. Sadly, some schools still verbally advise parents otherwise. No Kent or Medway school is told the position where parents have placed a school on the SCAF, and so none can offer a place according to position. You should not place a non-selective school ahead of a grammar school on your form unless it is a real preference, otherwise you may find yourself offered a place at the non-selective school, even though the child has passed the eleven plus. 
     Each school draws up a list of eligible applicants in terms of priority according to their oversubscription criteria. They are not told where you have listed them on the SCAF, so list schools exactly as you prefer them and don’t be swayed by any school telling you it gives priority to those who list them first. Your child will then be offered the highest preference school for which they are eligible. This means that some children could get their fourth choice ahead of others who listed it first if their claim is stronger. If your child does not qualify for any school on your SCAF, the LA will offer a place at the nearest school it judges as appropriate, or sensible.
     

    Warning on Medway School Admissions

    Schools are not allowed to know the position you have placed them on the Application Form when drawing up rankings of children to determine who is awarded a place. However, for 2014 entry the whole application form,including reasons for applying for a school was sent to Admission Authorities to be provided as evidence for appeal panels when considering appeals. I understand this practice will continue for 2015 admission and subsequently, although I regard it as a seriously retrograde step placing parents in an invidious position regarding their choice of schools. It is certainly wrong according to the spirit, if not the letter, of the mandatory School Admissions Code,that does not allow schools to know in which order the parents have placed them on the form for admission purposes.  However, I am told it is legal and other Authorities (not Kent) also use it when parents appeal for a school place in March, It is possible that some schools which are their own admission authorities (including academies) may choose not to present the information to Independent Appeal Panels, but for 2014 appeals nearly all did. If you are likely to have to appeal, you therefore now have to consider order of preference on the Common Application Form much  more carefully than in previous years, as the school and appeal panel will now see all your preferences and be entitled to ask the reason for them.

    Further, there is a section for you to provide the reason for applying to each school separately on the Form.  This used to be confidential to the school applied for and continues to be so, unless you appeal, when as it is on the common application form it is shared with all schools you are appealing to. Obviously if you put down strong reasons for applying to one school it may reflect badly on you if appealing for another! My advice is therefore clear. Do not put any entry in this section, unless you are applying on health grounds (or similar) on which you consider your child needs to attend a particular school, in which case you would also need to provide medical evidence to substantiate your claim. Otherwise, reasons are completely ignored for allocating places in the admission procedure as they do not form part of the criteria or rules by which places are allocated.



    APPEALS
    Your right to appeal is to a particular school, and so you must have applied for it on your SCAF. Medway & Kent parents have the right to apply for any additional school (including grammar schools) in April 2015, and if turned down to appeal. For Kent, you will need to use the In Year Admission process. For Medway, you probably need to go through the Council who also hold waiting lists for all the schools and  academies. 
     
    Grammar school appeals are likewise not against a non selective decision in general, but must be made for a named school. As a result, you must list any school you wish to appeal for on your SCAF. Sadly, you have to wait until National Offer day on 3rd March before the school technically rejects your application and only then can you appeal.
     
    This year the first appeals were heard in the last week of March (Medway tends to come first), the final ones not being heard until the middle of June.
     
     GUIDANCE
    It is difficult to give general guidance on placing schools in order, as circumstances change enormously from town to town depending on popularity of individual schools and their oversubscription rules. Above all, make sure that you and your child visit the schools you are considering.
    • For all oversubscribed schools find out if you would have been accepted last year. Ask for the distance from school the furthest pupil who was accepted lived. Many church schools admit children according to their level of church support. Find out which category of religious support was the lowest accepted.
    •  If the school is described as “Community” or “Voluntary Controlled”, oversubscription rules are laid down by the LA. Each “Voluntary Aided” or “Foundation” school makes its own rules and you need to check these out carefully to find if you are likely to be offered a place.
    •  Check the rules about free school transport, which only apply if you live more than three miles from your nearest appropriate school, or for certain church schools (this is different from Kent where children only qualify if they live more than three miles from their nearest school without taking into account "appropriate". These rules are detailed in the School Admission Booklet for your LA. See the page on School Transport and Appeals.
    • Try and make sure that you will be eligible for at least one school on your list, otherwise you will be allocated the nearest one with vacancies, which may not be to your liking.
    • Parents applying for secondary school places may be given a supplementary form “only where the additional information is required for the governing body to apply their oversubscription criteria to the application”. In Medway, this only applies to St John Fisher Catholic School, and Rochester Grammar School if you are applying on the grounds of music ability. You are under no obligation to provide information which is not required for this purpose. No form should ask parents to state what preferences they have named on their SCAF, or the order in which they have stated their preferences, as no school requires this to apply its oversubscription criteria.
    • In Medway, 86% of children secured their first choice in March for entry in September 2013 (87% in 2012 & 2011).
    • If not offered the school of your choice you can apply to go on the waiting list for any or all schools at which you have been turned down. Application forms sent with decision letter on 3rd March. 
    •  Both Kent and Medway have an on-line application system on which parents can change choices up to the closing date. Details of the Medway scheme can be found here. One concern for primary heads is that because they do not see these forms, they are unable to check if parents have made sensible decisions. Conversely, parents can hide decisions from the school, – valuable where certain primary schools strongly encourage certain applications. On-line applicants will be able to access decisions after 4 p.m. on 3rd March. Paper applicants will receive decisions by post on 2nd March.
    • Most schools now have specialist status, specialising in areas such as: mathematics & ICT, humanities, or sport. Some such as Rochester Grammar will give priority to up to 10% of places for candidates with a particular aptitude, in this case Music.
    • Most Medway secondary schools use nearness of homes to the school as measured by the nearest safe walking route determined by the Medway Council Geographical Information System. In a series of successful appeals in recent years, including a complaint to the Ombudsman at The Thomas Aveling School, I have demonstrated that the application of this system is seriously flawed.
    • Rainham Mark Grammar took all applicants who passed the Medway Tests in 2008, 2009 & 2010, regardless of scores. Just 6 first choices were turned down in 2011 and again for 2012. After an additional 30 places were added in 2013, just one qualified applicant was turned down. For 2014 entry, admission was competitive on high scores.  Rochester Girls Grammar used to have a high initial cut off score. However, after expansion the cut off has been very close to the bar pass in the past two years,  so don't be put off if you like the school. You will not know the cut off score before you apply. I have secured successful appeals for children who did not pass the Medway Test, although it does require a strong case.  
    Last modified on Tuesday, 30 September 2014 07:18